From Australia pushing back against Beijing’s “demands" to India’s population surpassing China’s – Here’s your July 12 news briefing

From Australia pushing back against Beijing’s “demands" to India’s population surpassing China’s – Here’s your July 12 news briefing
FILE PHOTO: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends the opening session of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Friday, July 8, 2022. Dita Alangkara/Pool via REUTERS

To start off, we’re looking into:

China and Australia try to reset ties

Australia and China have been at odds for quite some time now. When COVID hit in 2020, Australia’s previous leader Morrison called for an investigation into the origins of the virus. With that, Beijing put trade restrictions on several major Australian exports like red wine. (China is Australia’s largest trading partner.) Now that a new leader has landed down under, he’s been trying to repair the strained relationship. But they’re essentially both still butting heads over who started the fight in the first place.

On Friday, the two countries’ foreign ministers met at the G20 meeting in Bali for the first time since 2019, with Australia issuing a statement afterward saying, “We have our differences, but it is in both our countries’ interests for the relationship to be stabilised.” China also issued a statement, saying that for the two to move forward, among other things, Australia “must treat China as a partner, not an opponent.” But Albanese didn’t take it well, saying on Monday that Australia “doesn’t respond to demands.”

Alibaba and Tencent are fined

Alibaba Tencent fined
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Tencent is seen at Tencent office in Shanghai, China December 13, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song

For the last couple of weeks, there have been signs that the regulatory headwinds facing China’s tech sector are easing. With that, more investors are gearing up to invest in the market again. Sequoia China, for example, has raised nearly US$9 billion for four new funds to invest in Chinese startups primarily.

But on Monday, Chinese tech stocks fell sharply, driven by Alibaba and Tencent, which alongside several other companies were fined by China’s Market Regulation agency for not reporting properly on previous transactions that may lead to monopolistic hold in the same industry. A total list of 28 deals violated rules, five of which involved Alibaba and 12 of which involved Tencent. Under the anti-monopoly law, the maximum potential fine in each case is 500,000 yuan (US$74,688).

Does a fetus count as an HOV passenger?

fetus person Texas
Source: The Dallas Morning News, Jason Janik

Since the US Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to an abortion for Americans, a number of states now have laws on the books that consider a fetus a legal person. But this begs the question – if a fetus is a person, just how far does that legal definition go?

Well, Brandy Bottone, a pregnant woman in Texas, decided to put this to the test. She got stopped by a police officer while driving in the high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane – a lane typically reserved for cars with more than one person. When asked by the officer where her passenger was, she argued that her fetus was a person and, therefore, there were two people in the car – enough to qualify her to drive in the HOV lane.

It isn’t totally clear how strong of a case she has. The Texas penal code recognizes a fetus as a person, but transportation laws in the state aren’t as specific. The HOV-specific law in Texas states that the lane can be used by “a vehicle occupied by two or more people.” Lawyers and legal experts say this case is one example of many that will land in the gray area created by the Supreme Court’s recent ruling.

To end, we’ll look into:

India will overtake China in population figures by November

India population
FILE PHOTO: People shop in a crowded market amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Kolkata, India, January 6, 2022. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri/File Photo

In just four short months, by November, the earth will be home to 8 billion people, the highest global population yet. The UN says this growth hasn’t been going as quickly as it used to, and it’ll be another 60 years or so before it hits its peak at about 10.4 billion.

But part of what’s interesting about population growth now is that it isn’t evenly distributed. In fact, more than half of the growth over the next 30 years will happen in only eight countries – the DRC, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Tanzania and India.

And that last one is especially important since, right now, India has the world’s second-largest population, usurped only by China. But, by next year, the UN says India will have caught up to China and will be overtaking it. That milestone would make India not only the world’s biggest democracy but also the world’s biggest country, period.

On the flip side, China is looking down the barrel of a population decline, with the current world’s largest country having one of the lowest fertility rates at 1.15 children per woman.

Still, researchers say that the global population increase has been and will continue to be fueled by better medicine and healthcare, which means that more kids make it to adulthood, and more adults survive to be seniors. Experts say that the proportion of seniors will grow from 10% now to 16% in less than 30 years.

So what’s the big whoop? Truth be told, the population moves at a glacial pace, but how many people there are in the world has a bunch of weird and complicated economic consequences. Some people (including, famously, Elon Musk) are saying that the population decline we’ll see before the end of the century could cause some serious problems down the road.

In other news …

📉Stocks, oil and Bitcoin: MSCI’s gauge of stocks around the world fell 1.17% on Monday as investors nervously await US consumer price data and a bunch of corporate earnings reports coming out later this week that will help show how inflation is affecting businesses.

🛢Oil prices have eased a bit with lower forecasted demand. US crude is at US$103.77, and Brent is at US$106.78.

💲Bitcoin is at around US$20,334.

💔Taiwan official visits Japan: Taiwanese Vice President William Lai visited Japan to offer his condolences for former PM Abe’s murder on Monday. This is the highest-level official visit since 1972, when Japan cut relations with Taiwan in favor of mainland China. Abe, who was largely supportive of Taiwan, has been widely mourned in the country since his assassination, and a message of condolence has been displayed on its tallest building (Taipei 101) since Friday.

😷Hong Kong quarantine: Hong Kong says some quarantine can be done at home, given that some sort of mainland-style health code is implemented to track movements. The city is also planning to use tracking bracelets for those in quarantine at home.

🤵UK’s next PM: Since BoJo has stepped down, a new UK prime minister will be announced by Monday, September 5.

👮‍♂️Shooting in South Africa: At least four people have died, and eight have been injured after a shooting in eastern South Africa when two men went into a bar and “fired random shots at the patrons.” This was on the same night as another bar shooting in Soweto that killed 15. Officials are trying to figure out whether the two are linked.

📢Protests in China: Hundreds of people in China are demanding tens of billions worth of deposits back after private investment firm, Henan Xincaifu Group, worked with bank employees to attract public funds online illegally. With that, videos have been circulating with hundreds of protestors gathering at a Zhengzhou PBOC bank, with some arrested. This is at least the third protest that has erupted over this situation in a country where protests are rare.

Xi-Biden: US Secretary of State Blinken has said that he predicts Biden and Xi will be speaking in the coming weeks.

😆Elon and his memes: In typical Elon fashion, he’s laughed off the Twitter lawsuit with a late-night meme showing images of himself laughing alongside captions describing recent events in the Twitter buyout saga.

🐐Thor’s weekend: “Thor: Love and Thunder” raked in US$143 million at the box office in North America, the third-largest opening weekend this year.

Save the date!

Some events to watch out for this week (bear in mind the timezones, y’all):

  • US inflation data (consumer and producer) will drop on Wednesday, with speculation that consumer prices will be higher than the month before because of energy prices.
  • Emmy nominations are coming out on Tuesday (PST).
  • Earnings season is on! Big companies like PepsiCo, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Blackrock and Citigroup are all publishing second-quarter earnings this week, which will let us see how the economic situation has affected these companies and what they will do in light of the situation.
  • Economic data is coming out in China on Friday, with speculation that the economy contracted with the COVID lockdowns.
  • NASA is publishing the first full-color snaps of space taken by the largest and most powerful telescope ever sent into space.

Written and put together by Jake Shropshire, Christine Dulion and Krystal Lai